At BookArt101, we are delighted to have Manjiri Prabhu, Author of the novel – ‘Voice of Runes’
We had the good fortune of interviewing her, and we are certain her answers are going to inspire the inner writer in you! 🙂
Q.) First of all, congratulations on being an inspiration to many aspiring writers who want to dive into the mystery genre. As we know, you have been called the “Desi Agatha Christie” and also recognized as a “match for Dan Brown” by the legendary Shashi Tharoor. Does it build any kind of pressure on you? If yes, how do you cope?
Ans: Writing any book is always a journey of pressure because of the inherent nature of creative expression and its successful fulfilment. Having said that, I avoid taking pressure and focus on pleasure and leisure. Being compared to Agatha Christie is a huge honour and I deeply respect the tag. Dan Brown is a contemporary author, albeit hugely successful and it feels great to be declared a match for him, by the erudite Dr. Shashi Tharoor. But I need to mention here that I haven’t actively set out to follow their styles and I do believe that I have a style of my own.
I feel I was born to write mystery and suspense and thrillers, hence being categorised with other successful mystery fiction authors is like a playful admission of my success. At least that’s how I take it.
My responsibility is towards what I write and to my readers and to do full justice to my work to the best of my creative capacity. I take writing very seriously, take my time writing my books, enjoy the research and challenges and focus on writing a book different from my first one.
Q.) If we are to ask our Desi Agatha Christie, we can’t help but ask your favourite Agatha Christie book, and why?
Ans: Agatha Christie has written some really wonderful novels but my favourite is undoubtedly ‘Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ for the sheer nature of the manner in which the story unfolds and the brilliance and intelligence of its execution. I think the creative genius of Agatha Christie has never been more evident as in this book.
Q.) Do you have a favorite character that you’ve written? What makes it your favorite?
Ans: This is a difficult question because an author usually loves all her characters – I love Sonia Samarth my Astro-detective and her journey from being an amateur detective to a pro and her modus operandi of solving cases with the help of astrology. I love Re Parkar – the sensitive investigative journalist who gets psychic visions of a place before danger engulfs it.
I also like Stefan Weiss, the Austrian Officer who is Re’s friend and co-investigator of sorts. All these and many are great characters. But when I think hard, I believe that there is one character who stands out in my head and fascinates me. In fact, I am in awe of her. Magdalena Lindberg or Maddy from VOICE OF THE RUNES. Maddy is a person whom you cannot take lightly. You either love her or you hate her. And you certainly cannot ignore her. The range and intensity of emotions she portrays in the book and her determination to succeed left me breathless. I admire her tremendously and wonder often from which part of me was she born – my brain or my heart.
Q.) Besides all your other responsibilities, how much time do you devote to writing in a day?
Ans: I don’t have a definite daily writing schedule because I am a moody writer but when I can, I like to write a minimum of 1000 words a day. However, I don’t force myself to write. I allow the writing to come to me.
Q.) Describe your idea of a perfect story!
Ans: First off, I don’t like tragedies so stories have to have happy endings or at least hint at them. I am partial to well-detailed and logical plots that are gripping and engrossing and characters that connect with the reader with their quirks and qualities.
But most importantly, for me a perfect story is the one that leaves you with a sense of yearning in the heart – yearning for more of the story or the characters; for a longing to continue to be part of the story world and ambiance, long after it has ended. This obviously means that a story has to evoke a world that the readers can submerge in at all levels of consciousness and that they can revel in this ‘imaginative reality’.
Q.) Before signing off, can you please give a short piece of advice to all our aspiring writers of mystery fiction?
Ans: Mystery fiction is different from other fiction. It is somewhat like solving a geometry theorem. The author knows the answer and has to prove it logically. At the same time, you have to keep the reader guessing throughout the book. For example in a murder mystery, although the writer is aware that the reader knows that the criminal is one among the many characters, it is up to the writer to keep the needle of suspicion shifting flawlessly.
I think a writer should arrange the plot so cleverly as to make the reader chuckle in amusement at the end by the way he/she was kept confused throughout and should appreciate it too.
Hence, mystery writing requires craft and craftiness! Craft because a writer always has to write with one ‘thought’ in the writer’s mind and one ‘thought’ in the reader’s mind (to keep him guessing), all the while, maintaining a firm grip on the characters and the flow of the plot. Hence expertise of the craft is a prerequisite, because ultimately suspense and the element of surprise are the heart of the mystery novel..
Craftiness or being crafty is essential because some amount of cunning is required to deceive the reader and yet make him or her happy in the end.
Thus, an aspiring mystery writer should aim to perfect an ideal combination of both (craft and craftiness) to be a convincing mystery author.
If you enjoyed this interview, you will also enjoy our author interview with Yugal Joshi, here.